Revolving door still open to Coast Guard top officers, senior execs, GAO finds

Jeff Chiu/AP

More than half of high-ranking officials who left the U.S. Coast Guard in a recent five-year period received payments from companies with contracts from the military branch, according to a new report.

The Government Accountability Office’s audit found 22 of 39 Coast Guard admirals and Senior Executive Service employees who left the agency between 2006 and 2010 were paid by military contractors within one year of separating from the service.

GAO did not determine the legality of the former employees switching gears to work for contractors, but did point to several laws on the books that restrict the influence ex-feds can have on their old agencies.

The report was consistent with a similar study GAO conducted last year, when more than half of recently separated Coast Guard officials had worked for agency contracts.

In response to the report, the Homeland Security Department -- the Coast Guard’s parent agency -- said its high-ranking officials are “routinely provided” with ethics training on post-employment laws.

“The department remains committed to maintaining high standards of honesty, impartiality, integrity and conduct to ensure proper performance of government business and the continued trust and confidence of the citizens of the United States,” said Jim Crumpacker, DHS’ liaison to GAO. 

Watchdog groups found the report troubling.

“The revolving door between the Coast Guard and agency contractors is startling,” said Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight, a good government group. “Gaining insider knowledge is a huge benefit for a Coast Guard contractor, but it can also be a detrimental to the public good. Proper oversight of Coast Guard contract awards is necessary to deter and detect ethics violations.”
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